SBD/Issue 184/Facilities & Venues

Phillies And Citizens Bank Ring In Rights Deal With New Sign

Phillies’ Liberty Bell Will
Light Up For Home Runs

At yesterday's announcement of the 25-year, $95M naming rights agreement between the Phillies and Citizens Bank, it was unveiled that a 50' high and 35' wide Liberty Bell accompanied by a Citizens Bank Park sign will be located in left-center field above the rooftop bleachers. The Bell will come to life after every Phillies home run (Phillies).

COMING TOGETHER: In Philadelphia, Larry Eichel reports that the process of finding a naming rights partner for the team began last year with the hiring of Envision's Jeff Knapple "to seek out companies that might be interested." Phillies VP/Advertising & Sales Dave Buck said that the search produced "four or five serious contenders." The bank initially wanted to discuss extending its deal as the team's official bank. But Phillies President David Montgomery replied that the team "was in no position to discuss such a deal without first awarding the naming rights, since the winner might be another financial institution." Citizens Chair & CEO Stephen Steinour said, "We didn't think it was likely that another bank was going to come in here — we didn't see who it could be — so we weren't concerned from a competitive standpoint. But when we sat down, looked at the ballpark design, saw the view of the city and thought about the history, it became apparent to us that there was a much bigger opportunity here for us" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 6/18). Buck: "There was one company that we opted not to take to the final discussion that, in the long run, probably would have been for more money. We didn't take top dollar." Buck did not name the company, but added that it was not offering "substantially more money." In Philadelphia, Dana Pennett O'Neil notes that the deal does not end if the bank changes its name, or the team is sold. Also, the team has "protection built into the contract" if Citizens were to have an "embarrassing Enronlike tumble" (DAILY NEWS, 6/18).

WHAT IT MEANS FOR CITIZENS: Former FleetCenter President Larry Moulter said, "If you're going to build a banking business in eastern Pennsylvania, there aren't many vehicles better than an affiliation with a venue or a sports team to drive brand recognition" (BOSTON HERALD, 6/18). Citizens Bank Dir of Marketing Theresa McLaughlin said, "Our brand is still relatively new [in the mid-Atlantic]. We couldn't think of a way to bring our brand awareness up more quickly than this" (BOSTON GLOBE, 6/18).

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